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Holographic Exhibitions to Boost the Educational Offering of Two British Museum Groups

The Imperial War Museums as well as the Science Museum Group are set to bring holographic experiences to life in the near future, it was announced in July. Perception, a technology firm which specialises in augmented reality (AR) signed an agreement with both museum groups to use its holograms in a way that will enable students from around the world to experience them as though they were there. The partnering of Perception with two of the best-known museum groups in the UK will mean that some of the best parts of each collection will be viewable in three dimensions in classrooms, lecture theatres and homes across the globe thanks to the latest desktop AR hologram technology.

The CEO of Perception Dr Sirisilp Kongsilp, said that the partnerships with both museum groups constituted ‘an exciting opportunity’ for his firm to apply its technology within the culture sector. “[Our]… 360-degree desktop AR software will mean sharing collections in new and inspiring ways,” he said. “For the first time ever,” he continued, “ technology can bring artefacts to audiences in holographic form anywhere in the world.” Kongsilp reckons that the use of holograms will mean curators begin to reimagine the entire concept of what a digitised exhibition can be.

Taxpayer Support For Technology

Perception, which is supported by the UK government’s Global Entrepreneur Programme (GEP), plans to start off with the creation of purely holographic exhibitions for students in the UK and Thailand. It is expected that more than 20,000 students in both countries will be able to view these digital shows in their 3-D format with nothing more than a standard desktop computer and the right software. The desktop AR technology that will be deployed will mean any computer monitor can present holographic images of the chosen subject matter. What the software system does is track the position of the user’s head and alter the two-dimensional image on the screen in real-time to give it the appearance of a three dimensional one.

According to Perception, the Imperial War Museum and the Science Museum Group have already agreed to offer access to selected parts of their world-renowned collections. Not only will this allow Perception to showcase how the technology works within the museum sector but it will also mean that each of the museum groups will gain an opportunity to attain more of a global audience as the technology is rolled out further.

It is for this reason, that of global promotion of two British Institutions, that explains the UK government’s involvement. The GEP is a programme that is run by the Department for International Trade (DIT) rather than the Department for Digital, Culture Media and Sport, the ministry that museums are often most associated with. The DIT has overall responsibility for promoting British trading arrangements across the globe, part of which is supporting UK-based businesses as well as some cultural institutions, such as the two museum groups involved in this project.

Partnerships and Collections

According to Perception, which was founded in Thailand as recently as 2019, expansion into the UK is a big part of its commercial strategy for immersive technology. Perception has the stated aim of ‘reshaping the arts and culture sector’ and has decided that the best way to do this is with a series of partnerships with museums. It also intends to work in a similar manner with art galleries and even individual artists.

Gill Webber, who is the Executive Director of Content and Programmes at the Imperial War Museums, said that she thought there is a genuine desire within her sector to reach new audiences through nascent technologies like Perception’s desktop AR system. “Sharing our collection with this technology is exciting,” she said, before adding that the Imperial War Museum was thrilled to be working with Perception on the project. The Acting Director of the Science Museum Group, Jonathan Newby, echoed Webber’s thoughts. “Digital exploration is part of our DNA,” he said. “We look forward to seeing how audiences will benefit from this exciting new technology.” Newby also stated that he thought the emerging field of holographic AR would help his institution to better understand the creative potential of technology by measuring how audiences respond to it.

About the author – Manuel Charr

Manuel Charr is a journalist working in the arts and cultural sectors. With a background in marketing, Manuel is drawn to arts organizations which are prepared to try inventive ways to reach new audiences.

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